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Getting a Pre-Listing Home Appraisal: An Interview with Heidi Martinus of Martinus Appraisals

By Heidi Martinus

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My name is Heidi Martinus, Owner of Martinus Appraisal located in Birch Run, MI. I am an FHA Approved, State-Certified Residential Appraiser with 14 years of experience in the Tri-City Area of Michigan. I provide 1-4 family residential appraisals for lenders and individuals for mortgage, estate, listing and tax purposes in Saginaw, Bay and Midland Counties.

Can you briefly talk about getting an appraisal and the current trend for having them done?

The majority of the work I do is for lenders seeking appraisals for mortgage purposes. Appraisals are ordered by the lender or the Appraisal Management Company on behalf of the lender on homes for purchases, refinances, second mortgages and home equity lines of credit. These appraisals are "full appraisals" meaning that I go into the homes, take photos, discuss improvements and the structure with the homeowner, measure the home and then find comparable sales to determine market value in my final written report. The days of doing "drive-by" appraisals, where the appraiser takes a photo from the street and relies on public records for subject data are gone.

How does a pre-listing appraisal differ from the listing recommendations that a realtor makes?

A pre-listing appraisal takes into consideration recent sales in your neighborhood as well as active competing listings to determine market value. A reputable appraiser will come into the home and measure the home for accurate square footage. Listing agents provide sellers with what is called a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) which also includes current listings and sales in your neighborhood; however, the subject data is typically taken from public records which oftentimes are incorrect.

Is there a difference between an appraised value and realtor's listing value in the eyes of a lender?

Absolutely! The appraised value is the value assigned to the subject property by the appraiser based on comparable sales that have occurred in the subject's neighborhood and are similar in design, age, gross living area, condition, etc. with appropriate adjustments made for differences between the subject property and the comparable sales. This value is used to underwrite the loan. The appraisal must be done to suit the lender's guidelines as well as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA and/or Rural Development depending on the type of financing the borrower is obtaining. A realtor's "listing value" is used to determine the list price of the home, which is almost never the agreed sales price. The appraiser will discuss the listing history of the subject property in the report; however, no weight is given to the realtor's listing value when the appraiser is determining his or her market value.

What are some of the main benefits of having a pre-listing appraisal on a FSBO house?

I believe that his holds true for all homes going on the market, not just FSBO homes. Even if you've hired a very experienced real estate agent, it is in your best interest as a seller to obtain a third-party objective opinion before signing a Listing Agreement. Appraisers are up to date on current lender guidelines which will narrow down the sales that are used to determine market value and give a more accurate value which will help save a lot of time and money moving forward. Having an FHA approved appraiser do a pre-listing appraisal on your home will also make you aware of any defects which need to be addressed before listing your home. This will also save time down the road and may avoid deals falling through.

Do you have any advice for someone who is considering buying a house that's been appraised well above market value?

Typically when a home appraises for well above market value, there is an underlying reason. Perhaps there is a divorce, an estate or just a situation where the seller needs a quick sale. It should not be a red flag if the home appraises above purchase price. In this current market, where home prices appear to be turning around somewhat, it is possible. If the buyer is uncomfortable with it, I would suggest obtaining a second opinion from another qualified appraiser.

What is the best way for people to contact you and your company?

I can be contacted via email: heidi@martinusappraisal.com, or feel free to visit my website at Share this:

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